Disciple of INDYCAR Weblog

July 15, 2013

The Increasing Euro-centricity of IndyCar

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 2:15 pm

The Winner ISToronto observations: The idea of weekend doubleheaders worked really well at that venue. I like the concept. NBC Sports Network did another fine job for those of us unlucky enough not to be in the great city of Toronto. Both races were compelling in their own ways, and the Ganassi team seems to be on their way back through skill, luck, perseverance and favorable rules calls.

The single most entertaining portion of the entire weekend was the group apoplexy IndyCar critics suffered when Brian Barnhart donned the headset in the control room. It was as if the world had ended. Much of the criticism made little sense (as usual) and the critics generally came off as basement keyboard pounders, but it all made for hearty chortling.

The somewhat intangible aspect that makes many North American legacy fans jittery is the continuing push of IndyCar toward a more Formula One-like approach. After all, IndyCar essentially invented all the American motor racing traditions including rolling starts, ‘gentlemen start your engines,’ etc. The urgency of the push those enamored of road racing seem to desire for IndyCar has never been fully understood by many. That type of class difference has been at the very heart of IndyCar’s dysfunction since the 1960s. Meantime NASCAR took the IndyCar model and built their own empire. IndyCar direction has always seemed more like a herd of cats let loose in an open field.

That is not to say Formula One is not great. It is, and most racing fans watch or attend religiously. The problem is it has always been a niche in America despite massive worldwide popularity. Like soccer. When comparing the popularity of NASCAR to F1 in the USA does it not make more sense to enhance the business model IndyCar invented for NASCAR? Why would there need to be two versions of F1 instead of one IndyCar?

This conflicted approach was on display all weekend. The angst over standing starts was a main topic of discussion. Personally it appears to be a novelty that might work as a gimmick on a doubleheader weekend. Considering it full time for non-ovals is not optimal. What specific evidence does Derrick Walker have that led him to state ‘the fans want it?’ He failed to ask me or fans I know.

Wave the FlagIf I were a casual racing fan tuning in to the IndyCar race over the weekend would I believe it was a sport invented in America connected to the 500? After all two of three folks in the booth were F1 announcers with accents. That is not bad in and of itself. Diversity is great, both in the booth and in the paddock. Most of the population here, however, relates a little more to folks who sound like Darrell Waltrip or Larry McReynolds as evidenced by television ratings (favorite mispronounced word of the weekend by Darrell: Peripheral. Pronounced ‘per-if-eee-ul’). IndyCar does not have ‘safety cars.’ They are ‘pace cars.’ The race number is not a ‘round.’ ‘Formation lap!?’ No. When did ‘victory lane’ get replaced by a podium? And how long will it be before they start playing the national anthem of the winner’s country? At least they have not replaced milk with champagne at Indy yet.

My advice to Derrick Walker and IndyCar: Embrace your roots. IndyCar essentially invented the formula in America. Enhance it. Stop trying to copy something that has never really worked in America. And while you are at it get serious about the balance regularly espoused. Ideal scenario is twenty races a season. Ten ovals and ten non-ovals, ideally six natural terrain road courses and four street circuits. Balance is NOT 1/3 oval, 1/3 street and 1/3 road course. That is 67% non-oval. Not balanced. This should be an area of concern because most of the ladder series are road racing series, and the same guy just bought Lights. As we prepare to enter the suicide portion of the schedule (a giant gap right in the heart of the season) be mindful that future schedules should not have holes big enough to allow folks to forget you exist.

Meanwhile, back at the races . . . the most inspired performance of the weekend (other than the Ganassis) was Dragon Racing. Bourdais and his crew did a fine job. I like the positioning of Ryan Hunter-Reay as an All-American Champ, but he seems to whine way too much when the breaks don’t go his way. Would it be oddly funny if at the end of the season if E.J. Viso beat his three teammates in the points? It is a pretty safe bet Carlos Munoz will be in the big cars next season, but where? Hopefully so will J.R. Hildebrand. Mid-Ohio here we come!

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16 Comments »

  1. Dear Defender: I certainly enjoyed the fact that the top three finishers on both Saturday and Sunday were all former stars in CART/Champ Car!!!
    Editor’s Note: Are there still those who think of it in those terms? My advice: Grow up and try to be an actual racing fan. They have not been involved in that twice dead series now for a dozen years. When will the statute of limitations on that brand of hostile stupidity be up?

    Where have the great talents who came up in the powerful and mighty IRL gone? Seems as if none of those titans are still around to entertain us in our new world of standing starts and Euro-centric racing.
    Editor’s Note: Most of those retired. Most involved in the series now came along well after there was no IRL/cart delineation. Next…

    Perhaps management can get us at least one European engine manufacturer to join Chevy and Honda (Japanese, I presume?) and a few races in England or Germany…these factors, coupled with foreign announcers and a field of non-American drivers, will make our transformation to F-1 lite complete.
    Editor’s Note: IMHO, a futile, directionless path.

    As for Brian Bonehead Barnyard, great work sanctioning Dario on Saturday for a non-existent block and then reversing course…why is this man still in any position of authority in the series? Wasn’t he part of the unit responsible for maintenance at IMS before TG promoted him to management for his ass kissing ways?
    Editor’s Note: Yes, and he was allowed to spend money then.

    Comment by Neil Rubin — July 15, 2013 @ 2:52 pm | Reply

    • Dear Defender:

      As long as you continue to talk endlessly about CART killing itself twice even though we are five years into the merged or unified series, I will continue to address the never ending schism that TG caused by his destructive open wheel war…the day that you can stop yourself from bashing those of us who preferred CART/Champ Car over the garbage that TG gave us in the early years of IRL (pre-2003 when Penske, Ganassi and Andretti bolted CART to come over and dominate the IRL), then perhaps we can have an adult conversation about the best way to preserve and grow our beloved sport…but your posts continue to evidence a profound inability to resist the name calling, the bashing and the general hatred that makes your site so much fun!!!
      Editor’s Note: Oddly, I noticed my blog today had no such mention of cart’s self immolation or any related nonsense. In your commentary, however, I did notice nonsense crowing about the podium being ‘ex-cart/champcar’ folks, mention of ‘early IRL stars, a juvenile epithet of Brian Barnhart and ‘ass kissing,’ etc. So when you refer to name calling perhaps you should employ a mirror.

      Comment by Neil Rubin — July 15, 2013 @ 8:31 pm | Reply

      • Dear Defender:

        Come on, you old dog, you give us plenty of grief in almost all of your blogs so knock of the BS and come clean with your eternal hatred of everything CART/Champ Car and we can get down the business of really insulting one another and keeping the fires of anger and vengenance fueled on your blog for years and years to come..until the very demise of this series that appears headed for the rocks with miniscule TV ratings, an aging fan base and a total lack of attention in the national media…we will never accept TG and his failed vision and you will ramble on and on about CART’s self immmolation and related nonsense….I enjoy the sparring as do you otherwise you would have turned off this blog long ago…keep up the bad work and I will always challenge your myopic vision for American Open Wheeled racing as if we were back in 1963 with the advent of rear engined cars and funny talking foreigners invading the Midwest…perhaps we can visit your bomb shelter one day and reminisce about the time when the Indy 500 was actually a points paying race on the F1 calendar every year…until then, let’s live in the present where standing starts will become the norm, non-American drivers are required to pay the bills and ABC will continue to offer us poor TV coverage to the approximately 500K of us who still give a damn about this series….
        Editor’s Note: Neil, you appear to suffer from the same combination of OCD and no reading comprehension as the krapper kiddies. I have never argued against the quality of racing in the twice deceased cart series, but what they did they did to themselves. My thought is we would not have a sport today had 1996 not occurred. I do understand, however, that is water under the bridge and folks should move forward. How about you?

        Comment by Neil Rubin — July 15, 2013 @ 11:52 pm

      • Dear Defender:

        Regarding the Statute of Limitations on viewing the aftermath of the split in CART v. IRL terms, TG’s failed vision and its disasterous effects on the series eqates to the very murder of our beloved sport so there is no Statute of Limitations, as with the charge of murder, and we will continue to prosecute TG and his arrogance and hubris in the court of public opinion for the infinite future….you can count on the bitterness and loathing for years to come…enjoy the hatred!!!
        Editor’s Note: I prefer to enjoy the racing and laugh at fools that choose abject stupidity over simply being a normal fan.

        Comment by Neil Rubin — July 16, 2013 @ 12:01 am

  2. I have been concerned for years that Indy Car wanted to be F1 Lite. I have never understood it. Indycars competition is Nascar, not F1. Nascar has always understood that.

    The key to revitalizing Indy car is easy. Perhaps not as easy to implement as to see it. What made Indy car popular in the past? It wasn’t street parades and standing starts.

    Comment by Bob F. — July 15, 2013 @ 8:23 pm | Reply

    • Gee, Bob F., perhapse you did not notice the thousands of shiny fans sitting in the stands at almost every oval stop so far this season, except Indianapolis, of course, these are the aluminum fans who flock to every oval race on the Indy Car calendar and spend their $$$ lavishly on premium seats, food and beverages and Indy car merchandise….unfortunately, Bob, street parades like St. Pete, Long Beach and Baltimore are the only ways that the series can attract new and younger fans even though ovals are in the lifeblood of the series…however, ovals draw miniscule crowds and even lower TV ratings so I disagree with your assessment that street parades and standing starts are not the future for Indy Car…perhaps NASCAR is more to your liking…

      Comment by Neil Rubin — July 15, 2013 @ 11:57 pm | Reply

      • I have noticed that the attendance is not so great at the road courses. But nobody talks about that since they can usually fill the 5000 seats near the start finish line. I was at Milwaukee and it had a pretty nice crowd.

        I guess you must be a big F1 fan who likes the increasing “Euro-centricity” of Indycar. I believe it to be a big mistake. We were on this path in the early 90′s and Indy racing was beginnnig to suffer because of it. Nascar did not become dominant because of the split. It was already happening before 1996 because of “Euro-centric” decisions being made by CART.

        Given a free reign, CART did go bankrupt. Twice. Why repeat that model?

        Comment by Bob F. — July 17, 2013 @ 2:46 pm

      • Dear Bob. F: Do you get to the races often? I attended Saint Pete and the stands were largely full…went to Pocono over July 4 and there were large sections of empty seats all around us and we were in the good seats high up…for whatever reason, the ovals, other than Indianapolis, simply do not draw fans anymore… check out any of the ovals run this year and you will notice the large number of aluminum fans at the ovals, even Iowa where the fans apparently are quite enthusiastic….I became a fan in the 80′s when NASCAR was a regional sport followed by those still fighting the civil war and Indy Car was in its ascendancy in the 90′s with the reigning F1 Champion joining Newman-Haas to try his hand at American Open Wheel…brother, if this represented the ‘Euro-Centricity’ of Indy Car, having a reigning champ of any other discipline leave his series behind to join our program, I will take this any day over the ride buying, the lack of power and technological development, empty venues and dismal TV ratings that we currently suffer from in the present.
        Editor’s Note: Not to speak for Bob (he can do that himself) but you are reinforcing some of my previously stated points. All entertainment venues are struggling. If we were having a NASCAR discussion we could talk all day about entire empty sections at Cup races. Been to an MLB game lately? I saw Paul McCartney in concert recently and bought a last minute ticket for under face because there were lots of unsold seats. Lack of bodies in seats is not solely an IndyCar ‘problem.’ The fact you did not start watching until the 80s is telling, and I understand much of your bias better now. I personally enjoyed a period before you began following when IndyCar races would include reigning F1 stars, NASCAR stars and short track USAC types all in the same races. THAT was something. The ‘ascendancy’ of IndyCar is not something that occurred when Nigel waddled across the pond. It was, in fact, a lot bigger in the 50′s, 60′s and early 70′s. It got a little ghoulish after that ill-fated ’73 race, but by the end of the 80s NASCAR was national and immensely popular. cart, to me, was always just a mutiny fueled by the hot air and hype of its revolving door ‘leadership.’ I enjoyed the competition, but bigger milestones for me included things like the rear-engine revolution, turbines, the speed jumps brought about by ground effects, etc. You also seem to believe, mistakenly, that if cart was reconstituted in such a way that included F1 champions, bigger horsepower, no airboxes, etc., that ratings and crowds would automatically go up. That is just laughable. But points are taken. Sorry Bob.

        Comment by Neil Rubin — July 17, 2013 @ 7:37 pm

  3. I follow IndyCar since early 90s. I am european but i always loved better the american side of IndyCar. When the chimpy car turn to a f3000 copy in early 2000s i start follow IRL which was a great series, but the chimpy boys kill they series, came to indy and kill this series as well.

    Comment by Najo — July 16, 2013 @ 11:23 am | Reply

  4. Chimpy? Hey Super D, do you own any IZOD clothes? If they bail early on your series, do you plan on burning them in protest?
    Editor’s Note: I own a non-branded IZOD polo shirt and a pair of gay-ish looking shorts plus one IZOD IndyCar Series polo given to me by a member of the HG family. Once the non-branded polo shirt and shorts either wear out or I get tired of them, they’ll go to Goodwill. The IndyCar polo will probably end up at Goodwill eventually, but none will be the result of any sort of protest or other childish activity. I will have simply purchased replacement clothing I like better. I do own some other PVH brands as well. But the contents of my closet come and go. I am sort of enamored with shopping online for clothing; e.g. Duluth Trading Company, Bill’s, Sierra Trading Post and others. Drives the wife kind of bonkers.

    Comment by youowemeabeerasshole — July 16, 2013 @ 12:55 pm | Reply

    • Your on-line shopping venues say a lot. So, you don’t support series’ sponsors? What if the H/G clan knowed aboot that. lol.
      Editor’s Note: You should know that I go for comfort in most cases. I leave style to the pretty boys. Plus, I am a cheap bastard. I do support the sponsors. Usually get my gas at Citgo (or Sunoco or Shell if unavailable), drink Fuzzy’s mixed with Sun Drop (you can relate to alcohol consumption), also go for Dr. Pepper 10 and/or RC, use Verizon wireless (and the IndyCar 13 app) and have used McAfee (although it does creepy things to computers) in the past. I’m too young and fit for Acorn and not fat enough for Novo-Nordisk. Target has always creeped me out but I go in there now and then. I’m what you call a model fan.

      Comment by youowemeabeerasshole — July 16, 2013 @ 7:14 pm | Reply

  5. Bob, you say the key to revitalizing Indy Cars is easy, and that it does not include street parades and standing starts? Basically, you are saying that the series should be all ovals then, with maybe a few road courses? The IRL tried the old and tired theory of a completely oval american open wheel series, and it failed. It was when TG opened up his wallet to get the big boys like Penske and Ganassi, and started to add a few street circuits, that the IRL managed to make a bit of headway, albeit not all that much.

    The key to a successful Indy Car series, is to have the one thing that made it unique, and not what NASCAR is, nor what Formula One is…diversity. When the series had the super speedways, short track ovals, along with the airport track in Cleveland, street circuits and road courses, it was successful. You could truly say when a driver won back in those days, he truly deserved it. The diversity is what made the series unique, as well as the fact the cars were powerful and alot harder to drive back then. Diversity was one of the biggest keys to Indy Cars most successful period.

    Why is NASCAR successful with their predominantly oval series….well, the cars are very similar to what the people/fans drive on the road…fans can relate to them alot better. Nascar also does not have a mickey mouse-type feel to itself at all, unlike the Indy Car series. One man runs NASCAR, and it is his decisions that stick, nothing else. Decisions in Indy Car are made on a whim, constantly changing, etc;. Brian Barnhart personifies exactly what i am talking about. Indy Car needs to have a strong respected leader, and one clear direction, and stick to it.

    For the sake of disciple, i am not saying to go back to the days of CART either, but to something very similar, with better leadership. The car owners should not be allowed to run the series. Get one strong leader who has a clear vision (oops), and all the other nonsense about the sport will not matter. Every successful company has one thing in common, a strong leader/leadership, and everything else emanates from that structure. When TG was running the now extinct IRL series, you had a prime example of what happens when you give the keys to your shiny brand new Ferrari to a binch of chimps, and the results were predictable.
    Editor’s Note: The only real chimps to me seem to be the handful of cart enthusiasts who continually want to turn back the clock and slam anything IRL or TG related along the way. My suggestion: Get oriented in the here and now and see what Mark Miles can do. He actually has respect outside the racing world and the series has mostly re-evolved to a modern version of cart anyway, so what’s the beef?

    Comment by The Punisher — July 16, 2013 @ 1:36 pm | Reply

    • Dear Defender:

      Do I hear a potential thaw in your otherwise steely and steadfast armor against all things CART/Champ Car? That would be welcoming since we can then focus on the here and now and the future…all we want from you and your blog is to criticize the dumb ass decisions that the current management makes, to praise the good aspects of the series and to contemplate a time when Indy Car can regain its prestige and reclaim the mantle of the premiere racing series in North America and to keep banging the drum in favor of keeping the Indy 500 as the foremost racing event in the world….if you can restrain yourself for a few blogs and lay off the bashing, perhaps we can open a dialogue and get down to the business of improving this series, heaven knows we have plenty to address instead of looking back on a history that we cannot change, no matter how we wish we could….
      Editor’s Note: Uh, Neil…take this from an actual fan who has been supporting IndyCar since well before cart was even a tingling in Dan Gurney’s loins. IndyCar only lost its prestige in the deluded minds of those who stupidly allowed themselves to get butthurt mostly due to arrogance, and in many cases loss of employment when their favorite series went teats up. Twice. I’ve been actively enthusiastic for over 50 years and have seen a lot of evolution. The entire world has evolved. Isn’t it about time the cart utopians/Anton bashers at least tried to begin walking upright and breathing through more orifices than their loud mouths? Seriously.

      Comment by Neil Rubin — July 16, 2013 @ 9:40 pm | Reply

      • Dear Defender:

        I knew you could not resist the chance to insult us with your blog…we will continue to challenge and counter your specious arguments regarding arrogance and hubris, two adjectives that fit you and your idol TG very well…I will try to walk upright today and avoid scraping my knuckles on the ground as you keep up the butchering and the vile comments directed to about half of the 500K die hard fans who keep this series on life support.
        Editor’s Note: Another one of the more unevolved traits of your ilk is an assumption that TG is some kind of ‘idol.’ He’s not. I appreciate and respect his work when he led IMS, but that’s about it. Idol? Incorrect again. If the 500K die hards go to races and watch them on television, they have 100% of my support. If they squat obsessively along the Internet, continuously pine for twenty years ago and bitch like pre-menstrual women over anything then claim not to watch who needs them? Problem is most are out and out liars, so the fact they do watch and attend makes them OK in a sport continuation perspective but rotten as human beings.

        I will follow intently and enjoy the caustic remarks regarding the few of us who do loyally follow the series, despite its repeated attempts to scuttle its meager existence and alienate the handful of us left who spend hard earned $$$ to travel to attend races in person and who proudly wear the apparel of our favorite sport, even if we did not get some free swag from the H/G family.
        Editor’s Note: Keep on attending and watching. I’m trying for mid-Ohio and Fontana is a definite for me this season. Encourage your friends to do the same.

        Comment by Neil Rubin — July 17, 2013 @ 2:07 pm

      • Dear Defender:

        Trust me, I have tried valiantly to get my NASCAR buddies, my sports car enthusiasts and my F1 friends to follow Indy Car but I am continually faced with the following: didn’t Indy Car fold last decade when they formed two leagues? Who drives in that series? Does Ashley Judd’s husband still race? The speeds just are not what they used to be…I can’t find any media coverage of that series, is it still on TV? I am not interested in a spec series (even if NASCAR is the ultimate in spec as is its new toy, Grand Am), the Indy 500 is not as exciting as it once was (even though this installment was a classic)… the deep wounds caused by a destructive and endless war have taken their toll on the collective conscience of the American racing fan and unfortunately, we have inherited a product that has lost its appeal to a wide spectrum of the racing fan population….
        Editor’s Note: Their loss. I take at least four newbies with me to about every race and about 75% either go back or watch on television from then on. The big disconnect is effective marketing, but we’ve all known that for years.

        Comment by Neil Rubin — July 17, 2013 @ 9:39 pm

  6. (snip)An impressive collection of stunning, off topic illiteracy and IndyCar slamming(snip)
    Editor’s Note: Thanks for attempting to read.

    Comment by one of the crapper kiddies — July 16, 2013 @ 9:08 pm | Reply


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